Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Gvt cannot account for BoB billions -Auditor General orders investigation

The Auditor General has issued a qualified audit opinion on government’s main bank accounts with the Bank of Botswana because transactions running into billions of pula cannot be accounted for.

The Auditor General has further called for an investigation into the account. Government cannot account for debits of P 4 933 156 857 in its remittances account which is the main government account at the Bank of Botswana, it emerged in the 2016/2017 Auditor General’s report. Botswana had a yearend balance of P 525 751 327 in its main BoB account.

“The reconciliation statement of this figure with the bank statement balance included among others unidentified debits totaling P4 932 156 857 in the bank statement and receipts totaling P114 459 342 728 in the general ledger which should be investigated.”

It emerged that some of the items that cannot be accounted for date as far back as 2005. “I have not been able to appreciate how receipts of this magnitude could be in the General Ledger and not in the bank statement over such a long period”, states the Auditor General.

The Auditor General said he could not certify the correctness of the value of the government’s main account with the bank of Botswana because “verifications of cash and bank balances as at March 2017 had shown weaknesses and shortcomings in the reconciliations and monitoring of the accounts making up the year-end totals. She said this was part of the reasons leading to the qualification of the account.

It further emerged that the government Group I Electronic Fund Transfer bank account was reconciled up to March 2010 but the reconciliation has now been stopped pending an ongoing investigation.

There are indications that the Ministry of Finance accounting Officer may have lied to the Public accounts Committee about the Government’s civil service salaries account. At the last public Account Committee Meeting while responding to adverse comments from the Auditor General, the Ministry’s accounting officer assured the PAC that the salaries account at Bank of Botswana had since been reconciled to March 2016.

The auditor General however found problems with the government’s civil service salaries account “an audit verification of the account for the year to March 2017 had indicated reconciling items that had not been satisfactorily dealt with including voided cheques amounting to P32 424 749 which had been outstanding since 2004, unpresented cheques amounting to P 80 888 839 and other items described as “data-take on “amounting to P19 053 325 dating back to 2004.

Indications are that the accounting officer may have also lied to the PAC during his submissions on the Group K L and N accounts. The accounting officer told the PAC that reconciliation for the groups had been completed. The Auditor General however found that the Group K still has reconciling items of unpresented cheques amounting to P 2 019 578 covering the period from November 2011 to March 2017 while Group L items included unpresented cheques amounting to P 1 376 783 dating back to 2012 and voided cheques of P 61 168 also dating to 2012.

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